Category Archives: Events and Competitions

Come and Explore Languages at Oxford!

Here at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, we organise and run a range of open days for prospective students and their parents and guardians. Open days are one of the best ways to get a real feel for a University, helping students to make informed decisions about their futures.

Over the course of February and March, we will be holding our language-specific open days, designed to provide greater insight into our undergraduate degree programmes. In comparison to our wider open day in May, language-specific open days are smaller and more focused in their scope, allowing more time to explore a subject in depth.

For example, the German open day offers an introduction to German film, linguistics, and different types of literature. On the Spanish and Portuguese open day, you can explore medieval Iberian literature and learn Portuguese in 15 minutes. The Italian open day will introduce you to Italian literature’s biggest names from the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods.

So, if you’re thinking about applying to study languages at Oxford, or want to find out more about a particular course, these open days offer a wonderful opportunity to meet some of our tutors and current students, come along to academic taster sessions which will give you a flavour of what it’s like to study languages, and ask lots of questions.

Below are the details of our 2022 language specific open days. You will need to book a place at these events, which you can do via our open day website, where you will also find the event programmes.

  • German: Saturday 19th February, 11am – 3pm, Microsoft Teams
  • Spanish & Portuguese: Friday 25th February, 10am-3pm, St Anne’s College
  • Italian: Saturday 5th March, 11am-1.30pm, Microsoft Teams
  • Russian and Slavonic Languages: Saturday 5th March, further details to be published soon.

You may have noticed that there is no specific open day for French: students interested in French should attend the Faculty’s main open day in May or one of the University open days in July or September. Keep your eyes peeled for more information about those events in future blog posts.

We look forward to having you along to our language-specific open days – don’t forget to book your place!

While you’re here: a reminder that applications to our 2022 UNIQ programme are still open! You can read more about this fantastic opportunity for UK state school students in last week’s blog post, or head to the website for further information.

Apply now!

UNIQ 2022 – Applications now open!

After two years of online delivery, UNIQ 2022 is delighted to be able to welcome Year 12 students back to Oxford! UNIQ 2022 will combine the best aspects of our residential summer school and sustained online programme to offer a hybrid UNIQ programme to 1600 students across the UK. 

UNIQ logo

What is UNIQ?

UNIQ is Oxford University’s flagship outreach programme for Year 12 students at UK state schools/colleges. It is completely free and prioritises places for students with good grades from backgrounds that are under-represented at Oxford and other universities. The UNIQ programme offers a fantastic opportunity for these students to immerse themselves in the Oxford environment, sample some of our teaching, and try out life as an Oxford student.

What does the programme entail?

UNIQ 2022 offers both an in-person residential in Oxford and an online support programme. Taking place over several months, UNIQ starts in April, with academic courses in the summer, followed by university admissions support.

During the summer residential, students have the opportunity to experience life as an Oxford undergraduate by staying in an Oxford college and exploring the city for themselves. They will also get to know some of our Oxford undergraduates and work with our academics in face to face lectures, labs and tutorials.

What does this look like for Modern Languages?

For Modern Languages, there will be courses available for Spanish, French, and German. All three courses enable students to explore the language, literature, theatre, film, and linguistics of each discipline, while also providing the opportunity to have a taster of four other European languages at a beginners’ level.

Our aim is to give students a taste of what it is really like to study Modern Languages at Oxford, and to provide a sense of the breadth of our courses – including several of the languages you can study here as a beginner.

UNIQ student testimony

What are the benefits?

Throughout the UNIQ programme, students will explore subjects they love and gain a real insight into Oxford life, helping them to prepare for university, and decide what is right for them. UNIQ also enables students with similar interests in local regions and across the UK to connect with each other through social and academic activities.

Most UNIQ students go on to apply to the University of Oxford and they also get help to prepare for our admissions tests and interviews. In general, UNIQ students who apply to Oxford have a higher rate of success than other applicants.

How do I apply?

We welcome applications from:

  • Year 12 students from England and Wales, in the first year of A level studies or equivalent
  • Year 13 students from Northern Ireland, in the first year of A level studies or equivalent
  • S5 students from Scotland, studying Highers or equivalent

The online application process is quick and easy – it only takes 15 minutes! – and can be completed via the UNIQ website. Applications close on Monday 7th February at 11pm.

You will need:

  • the name of the school where you did your GCSEs (or equivalent) or your Nationals if you are a Scottish student.
  • the name of your current school.
  • your first and second choice UNIQ courses.
  • your teacher’s surname and email address.
  • a list of your qualifications.

As UNIQ is an access programme, admission to UNIQ 2022 will be based on a range of criteria that relate to students’ academic potential and socio-economic background. You can read more about this here.

UNIQ student testimony

Good luck to all applicants!

Happy New Year!

Photo by Antonio Gabola on Unsplash

We hope you had a wonderful break over the festive period and enjoyed celebrating with friends and family where possible.

Despite ongoing restrictions, countries around the world celebrated the New Year with their usual impressive firework displays… as well as with some less well-known traditions designed to bring luck for the year ahead.

Did you know?

In Denmark, people smash plates on the doorsteps of their friends and family to bring them good fortune. As the tradition goes, the more broken plates, the more luck you’ll have! Godt nytår!

Photo by Maja Petric on Unsplash

In Spain, a common New Years Eve tradition is a grape-eating challenge – one grape on each of the twelve clock strikes which see in the new year, representing good luck for the twelve months to come. ¡Feliz año nuevo (y buen provecho)!

In Romania, one tradition involves dressing up as bears, playing instruments and dancing, rituals designed to ward off evil spirits from the year before. According to some Romanian legends, bears have healing powers and are considered to be sacred animals. Un An Nou Fericit!

Here at Oxford…

We’re already starting to think about the year ahead and the exciting projects we have planned. Applications for our 2022 UNIQ programme open on Monday 10th January. UNIQ offers high achieving state school pupils from underrepresented backgrounds ongoing academic support as well as a summer residential in Oxford.

We will be publishing more information about the programme on next week’s blog post, but feel free to have a look at the UNIQ website if you are interested in finding out more.

In the meantime, wherever you are in the world, we wish you all a very happy and healthy 2022!


Did you know that 2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Italian poet, Dante Alighieri? In celebration of this anniversary, the University of Oxford is delighted to launch the Dante700 Competition for primary and secondary school pupils.

Portrait of Dante.
Sandro Botticelli, ‘Portrait of Dante’ (1350-1375)

Who was Dante Alighieri?

Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in Florence and died in 1321 in Ravenna. He is most famous for his poetry but he also wrote about the Italian language, politics, and philosophy.

The Commedia (Comedy) is Dante’s most famous poem. It is a long, epic poem in medieval Italian in which Dante describes his three-part journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise accompanied by three guides.  The poem is made up of 100 canti  (songs) in total across the three sections.

Dante’s poetry (especially the Commedia) was extremely influential for European literature and art. Many famous writers and poets were inspired by his writing, from medieval writers like Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio, to modernist writers like T.S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett.

Dante700 Competition

Many students in the UK may never have heard of Dante or The Comedy. The aim of this competition is to introduce Dante and his work to students of all ages in a fun and engaging way.

To enter, students can submit a written piece or an artistic response to any of the categories included in the resource packs. They can also submit an ‘open response’, but this must be clearly linked to Dante’s work. Winning entries will be included in an online anthology and will win book tokens. 

Students and parents can browse the resources for themselves, and teachers can use the lesson resources available to introduce the Italian poet to their classes.

The closing date for entries is 29th April 2022. Visit the competition website to access further information and resources. Entrants can submit their work here.  

Buona fortuna!

Dante700 Competition logo


We’re delighted to announce the return of our ever-popular French and Spanish flash fiction competitions for school students. If you are learning French and/or Spanish in Years 7-13, you are invited to send us a *very* short story to be in with a chance of winning up to £100. Read on to find out more…

What is Flash Fiction?

We’re looking for a complete story, written in French or Spanish, using NO MORE THAN 100 WORDS.

What are the judges looking for?

We’ll be looking for imagination and narrative flair, as well as your ability to write in French or Spanish. Your use of French or Spanish will be considered in the context of your age and year group: in other words, we will not expect younger pupils to compete against older pupils linguistically. For inspiration, you can read last year’s winning entries for French here, and for Spanish here.

What do I win?

There are two categories: Years 7-11 and Years 12-13. A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning entry in each category, with runner-up prizes of £25. The winning entries will be published on this blog, if you give us permission to do so.

How do I enter?

The deadline for submissions is noon on Thursday 31st March 2022. If you would like to submit a story in French please do so via our online submission portal here. If you would like to submit a story in Spanish please do so here.

You may only submit one story per language but you are welcome to submit one story in French AND one story in Spanish if you would like to. Your submission should be uploaded as a Word document or PDF.

Please note that, because of GDPR, teachers cannot enter on their students’ behalf: students must submit their entries themselves.

If you have any questions, please email us at

Bonne chance à tous!

¡Buena suerte a todos!


A reminder that the Prismatic Jane Eyre translation competition for schools is still open for entries:

The Prismatic Jane Eyre School Project is a nationwide creative translation competition for school learners run by the University of Oxford and the Stephen Spender Trust. The competition is a celebration of all languages taught in schools and spoken in homes across the UK.

Entrants are asked to produce a poem in another language inspired by a selected passage from Jane Eyre. The competition accepts submissions in any language from learners in Key Stages 3-5 / S1-6, and all entries need to be accompanied by a literal translation into English. Pupils will be rewarded for their creativity. Up to 100 entries to the competition will be published in a printed anthology, which will also be available online.

Support materials are available on our resources page. Additional activity packs are provided in four languages (Arabic, French, Polish, and Spanish). These materials give learners and teachers the chance to take part in creative translation activities related to Jane Eyre at home or in the classroom.

The competition guidelines and selected passages are available on this webpage. The competition deadline is 1 March 2022. 

Interested teachers and prospective entrants can receive regular updates about the competition (or the project more generally) by registering their interest using this form.

For queries, contact


The tasks for the Oxford German Olympiad 2022 are now online.

It is our 10th Olympiad!

This year’s topic is “Der Rhein”. 

 It is a topic that explores cultural, geographical and historical dimensions of Germany’s second largest river.

There is also a nice little prehistoric link to Oxford: a long time ago, the Rhine and the Thames used to be connected!

The tasks and further information can be found here:

The Competition Tasks

Choose one of the tasks appropriate for your age group.
All tasks to be completed in German, unless indicated otherwise.

Years 5 and 6 (age 9-11):

  1. Draw a picture of a barge on the Rhine. Label the 12 most important items.
  2. You are attending the “Basler Fasnacht” (carnival of Basel) or “Kölner Karneval” (carnival of Cologne). Design your costume and give your drawing or painting 10 labels.
  3. Draw a comic strip of the Rhine and the places it flows through.

Years 7 to 9 (age 11-14):

  1. Draw or paint a picture of creatures that live in and by the Rhine, and write a short text describing them.
  2. Write about a day in your life on Lake Constance (der Bodensee) in a prehistoric stilt house (Pfahlbau) – “Ein Tag am Bodensee in der Bronzezeit”.
  3.  Draw a scene from Heinrich Heine’s poem „Die Loreley“ and describe what is happening.

Years 10 and 11 (age 14-16):

  1. “Rheingold”. Write a story or create a video inspired by the Nibelung treasure.
  2. Create an online exhibition about the famous castles along the Rhine.
  3. Give a video presentation about the historical importance of the Rhine.

Years 12 and 13 (age 16-18):

  1. “Wie sichern wir die nachhaltige Zukunft des Rheins?”. Plan a conference for 16-18 year olds including the advertisement and programme with keynote lectures and topics for roundtable discussion.
  2. Write an essay, give a video presentation OR create a website on one of the following topics associated with places on the Rhine: “Hildegard von Bingen”, “Die Geschichte des Zeppelins” OR “Der Kölner Dom”.
  3. Write an essay or video yourself giving a lecture on the following topic: „Schlagader Europas: Die Geschichte des Rheins”.

Open Competition for Groups or Classes (4+ participants):

  1. Create a website for a Rhine river cruise.
  2. Write and illustrate a children’s book about acat living on a Rheinschiff (Rhine barge).
  3. Create a graphic novel or a video featuring characters or storylines from the “Nibelungenlied”.

Discover German – Taster Competition (1-3 participants with no prior experience of studying German):

  1. Years 5 and 6: Find out what the following German words mean and draw a picture including all these items, each with a label:
    der Fluss, das Ufer, die Brücke, das Haus, das Schiff, der Hügel, die Burg, die Fahne, der Fisch, die Nixe.
  2. Years 7 to 9: Draw or paint a picture of the whole Rhine and label the countries (in German), 10 cities and 10 things you would be likely to find in or along the river.
  3. Years 10 and 11:Create a crossword puzzle or game that includes the names of 15 places on the Rhine or words associated with the Rhine.
  4. Years 12 and 13:  Research words formed with (a) Fluss, (b) fließen and (c) flüssig. Give one or more translations for each word (the translation may consist of more than one word).

Please note:

– Each participant must submit an entry form and a teacher form.

– Each participant may only enter for one task within their age group as an INDIVIDUAL entrant.

– We require a consent form for under-13 participants. Click here to download the form.

Click here for some of our thoughts and ideas about this year’s tasks.

Closing date for all entries is Thursday, 10 March 2022.

We are looking forward to receiving lots of exciting entries!

Any questions, please contact Eva Wechselberger:


And here are the last brilliant stories from the Year 12 and 13 highly commended entries in the French Flash Fiction competition 2021:

Sur une île isolée, il ne restait plus que deux hommes âgés qui parlaient la même langue. Chaque jour Jon et ses nombreux animaux rencontraient Paul pour maintenir leur langue ensemble. Un jour, Paul est allé rencontrer Jon. Mais en arrivant, il a remarqué que la porte était ouverte. Quelque chose n’allait pas. Paul est entré. John s’était éteint sur son fauteuil. Un mois plus tard, un notaire est arrivé avec le testament. Jon avait laissé à Paul son perroquet comme cadeau. Ce dernier s’est mis à pleurer quand le perroquet a commencé à parler la langue !

Harrison Cartwright, Year 12

Allô P-p-puis-je parler à Monsieur Bordeaux ? Il est là ?

Ouais c’est moi, imbécile. Tu veux quoi cette fois ?

On doit c-c-causer en personne… si c’est possible. J’peux pas te le dire maintenant.

Dis-moi, personne n’écoute, t’as fait quoi ?

J’ai… J’ai fait une p’tite erreur.

Mais t’as fait quoi ?

Il est devenu silencieux pendant un moment.

Mon coffre-fort a disparu. Ils ont fouillé tout mon appartement, ma chambre est en désordre.

Et ils ont pris combien ?


Monsieur Bordeaux tenait le coffre-fort sur ses genoux.

Je suis désolé, mais j’peux rien faire, mon ami.

Elishe Lim, Year 12


Je pense. Je pense à la puissance, aux possibilités infinies, aux occasions que cette estrade fournit. Je m’émerveille. Je m’émerveille devant la beauté de cette scène boisée : ses pièces distinctives, ses caractéristiques élaborées soigneusement et ses changements prévisibles des couleurs comme une discothèque monochrome.

Je regrette. Je regrette des erreurs que j’ai faites, des signaux que j’ai manqués, des occasions que j’ai gâchées. « C’est votre tour. »

J’espère. J’espère que j’ai bien pensé, que j’ai apprécié le moment, que je n’ai pas de regrets, que je peu m’exprimer en lettres et nombres… « Échec et mat ! »

Joseph Oluwabusola, Year 12

Il nous reste 24 heures.

J’ouvre la porte doucement. L’air se faufile dans ma maison. Je me sens bien. Mieux que bien; je me sens à la fois en sécurité et libre.

Il nous reste 16 heures.

Je sens une légèreté dans l’air, mais aussi plein d’espoir et de joie. La tension constante a disparu.

Il nous reste 8 heures.

La nuit tombe. Il fait un noir sombre, mais je n’ai plus peur. Plus besoin de me retourner en marchant. Plus besoin de craindre pour ma vie quand je marche seule dans la rue.

Il ne nous reste plus d’heures.

La journée sans hommes s’est terminée, mais elle était magnifique.

Safiyah Sillah, Year 12

Je me suis baladé dans la rue avec mon chien remuant sa queue. Ce matin était calme ; j’écoutais seulement le son des oiseaux qui chantent. Le soleil a jeté un coup d’œil à travers les nuages. Soudainement, mon chien est commencé à aboyer, avec un sens de l’urgence. Le ciel et les nuages a confondent en une couverture grise. Les vague de gens qui voyagent m’a frappé comme un tsunami. Vite et impitoyable. C’est lundi, le temps est venu de mettre vos masques pour la semaine. Préparez-vous, mais n’inquiétez pas, les jours passeront avant vous le connaissez !

Teniola Ijaluwoye, Y12


Here are five brilliant ultra-short stories that were highly commended entries in the Years 12 and 13 section of our Flash Fiction Contest. Hope you enjoy them — more next week…

La nature d’aujourd’hui

Rivières scintillantes, et soleil chaud. Tu la sens dans tes os, la tendresse de la pluie de l’été. Que la vie est belle ! Tout ce que ton âme veut, ce n’est rien. Il vaudrait mieux rester ici, pour toujours. Tu sais que Mère Nature est avec toi.

Tu enlèves les lunettes et sens la saleté. « Sont bonnes, n’est-ce pas ?» dit le commerçant. Tu acquiesces et tu te tournes pour partir.

« Attendez, madame ! Vous avez oublié vos boîtes d’oxygène ! »
Tu fais demi-tour et tu te demandes pourquoi le monde est devenu si gris.

Jamilya Bertram, Year 12

L’habit ne fait pas le moine. Bien sûr ; ce serait toujours lui. Il est aussi parfait que sa photo. La façon dont ses yeux regardent les miens en dit plus que les mots ne le pourraient jamais. Je veux le tenir pendant qu’il pose ses bras sur moi, sans jamais lâcher prise. Une larme tombe sur mon visage. Nous parlons sans mots ; nous n’avons jamais eu besoin de mots pour parler. Deux garçons ne pourraient-ils pas être amoureux ? Je ne sais plus. J’éteins mon téléphone. Il n’est pas là, il n’était jamais là. Je suis seul.

Benjamin Fletcher (Y12)

Lors d’une soirée d’hiver au ciel ténébreux, une sinistre bête plane vers les égouts à la rencontre de son ami, le rat. La chauve-souris vient échanger avec son ancien complice son dernier délit.

“Bel ami qu’as-tu fait ces deux dernières années ?” interroge le rat.

“Ma chère vermine terrestre, j’étais occupée à répandre dans le monde une maladie plus destructrice que ta propre petite peste ! Actuellement en route pour mettre fin à l’homme je suis…”

“Félicitations !” répond le rat.

Soudainement, les eaux des égouts montent, causant un déluge, qui noient les deux créatures.

Nul parasite vaincra l’humanité.

Charles Blagburn (Y12)

Les colonnes blanches entre lesquelles un agent de sécurité lui a regardé soigneusement étaient immenses. Derrière une vitrine, les bijoux de son arrière-grand-mère brillaient et à côté desquels il y avait une photo avec du texte, racontant son histoire par les mots de ceux qui l’avaient détestée.

Il était si proche à ses racines, jusqu’à ce que les conservateurs aient éteint les lumières pour annoncer l’heure de fermeture. Tout à coup les yeux de son arrière-grand-mère ont disparu dans l’obscurité. En sortant avec ses propres yeux pleins de larmes, ses mains à son cœur, il a rempli de joie.

Jamie Hopkins, Year 12

Je suis allongé, rigide. De l’acier dans mon teint. Les doigts de glace s’agrippent à ma gorge. Un portrait de ma grand-mère me dévore de son oeil sévère.

Virginia Woolf croit que toutes les femmes sont liées, ourlées ensemble par un fil invisible. Alors pourquoi ai-je l’impression que le tissu du monde n’était pas assez élastique pour s’étirer jusqu’à moi? Mes pensées sont grandes aujourd’hui. Adultes. Dangereuses. Mais je ne suis pas une adulte, et certainement pas grande.

Les murs ont des oreilles. Peuvent-ils entendre mes pensées, aussi?

Mes pensées s’arrêtent.

Je crois voir ma grand-mère tourner la tête.

Allie Gruber (Y12)


As promised, the second and final batch of our highly commended French Flash Fiction entries from Years 7-9. Many, many more of the entries we received were also brilliantly clever, funny, touching and thought-provoking, and we’re only sorry we don’t have space to include them all. (Highly Commended Years 12-13 coming next.)

Les trois princes

Il était une fois, il y avait un roi qui avait trois fils. Le roi devait décider qui gouvernerait le Royaume après sa mort. Il a inventé un défi pour les princes intitulé ‘Qui est le but de la vie ?’ Le premier prince lui a donné de l’argent, le deuxième – une femme, et le troisième – une barre de chocolat. Le roi a demandé : ‘Pourquoi tu me donnes une barre de chocolat ?’ Le prince a répondu : ‘Le but de la vie est de répandre le plus de joie possible !’ en distant cela, prince est devenu roi et a vécu heureux pour toujours.


Ava Preston, Y9

Cette histoire ne termine pas bien, car Cendrillon écrit sa propre fin. Elle fait le ménage pour sa

famille et va au bal, mais quand les aiguilles de l’horloge s’arrêtent à douze, elle s’enfuit. Elle ne

rentre pas à la maison, ni ne cherche pas sa bonne fée, parce que qui veut une vie avec un prince

quand les dix-neuf années de liberté qu’elle n’a jamais reçues sont au coin de la rue? C’est une nuit

sombre alors que la princesse fuit, une traînée de mensonges et verre brisé derrière elle. Mais elle

ne s’arrête jamais de fuir.

Chung Yu Kwok, Y9

Je me souviens des passagers qui sautaient du bateau dans gelee l’eau. Ils étaient désespérés mais esperaient survivre. Je me souviens je étais un de ces enfants accrochée à mon frère qui flottait mort dans l’eau. Je me souviens de l’eau glacée qui encerclait mes pieds nus. Finalement quand ils m’ont tiré de l’eau, ils parlaient une langue je n’ai pas comprise. Ils m’ont mis un gilet de sauvetage et m’ont enveloppé dans un couverture. Je savais que j’étais en sécurité, pour l’instant.

Emily Seager, Year 9

Des rayons lumineux attirent mon attention en cet autre jour silencieux. Le corset autour de ma taille plus serré, plus serré, plus serré alors que je lutte pour une bouffé d’air usé. Ma voix verrouillée, mes droits verrouillés, ma liberté verrouillée. Pourquoi dois-je m’habiller pour une autre journée de solitude dans son château. Sa maison, ses chambres, son lit. Je suis la chose. Je ne suis pas mais maintenant je dors, en espérant que cette fois je me réveillerai avec une voix, avec de l’air frais, avec une maison légitime et surtout avec un but.

Alice Hadwen-Beck, Y9

L’Histoire de voyage de mode

Il y avait une fille nommée Angélique, qui avait la passion de créer des vêtements uniques. Un jour, alors qu’Angélique était chez son grand-père, elle a trouvé quelque chose d’intéressant dans le sous-sol ; c’était une mystérieuse caisse en bois avec une description d’avertissement dessus. Sans hésitation, elle ignora et ouvrit la caisse. À l’intérieur il y avait une machine à l’aspect étrange alors elle a essayé de la peaufiner un peu, *ZAP* elle était partie. Puis elle se rendit compte qu’elle était dans une pièce avec une inconnue ; c’était Coco Chanel. Après une rencontre avec Madame Coco, Angélique rentra chez elle et créa quelque chose d’extravagant avec inspiration.

Gabriela Duniec, Year 7